5 Myths about political campaigns you should know

June 14, 2018 - 7 minutes read

The public is often unaware of the nuts and bolts of campaigning and certain myths continue to exist through preconceived notions that are left unchecked. Most of the long-held beliefs parroted by cable news channels are flat out wrong. They are based on assumptions or lack of historical context.

To rid yourself of these common misconceptions, we’ve put together a list of 5 myths about political campaigns.

POLITICIANS USE NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING BECAUSE IT WORKS

It’s a long-held belief that politicians use a negative campaigning strategy as it benefits them. Politicians also believe negative ads are more memorable than positive ones. This is not always true.

A campaign does not work or win favor based on its tone (positive or negative), more or less depends on how well the ad connects with the public on an emotional and rational level.

The problem with mudslinging is it can misfire and do more harm than good. For example, attacks against George W. Bush’s military record in the presidential election (2004) is a classic example of how negative campaigning did not work, in spite, Bush went on the win elections. For, the simple reason being Bush was popular and notable among the public. Criticizing him or attacking him would not change public opinion (due to emotional connect).

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Daisy ad is a good example of how negative campaigning works. The ad raises concerns over the nuclear conflict during the cold war period. It instills a fear in people by asking the public to choose between life or death. Johnson won the elections with a landslide victory.

IF YOU WON’T MAKE IT TO THE POLLS ON ELECTION DAY, YOU CAN’T VOTE

Many people believe if they don’t make it to the polls on election day to turn in their ballot, their vote won’t count. Untrue! Absentee ballot allows voters who are ill, away or unable to vote on election day to send in their votes.

This criterion varies from state to state. Some use this to avoid crowds while others offer early voting. Campaigns should pay attention to the lack of information that citizens have about the voting process. To make sure you don’t lose out on votes include early voting, absentee ballots, election day registration, and vote at home. As a part of your GOTV strategies make sure that people know of all voting options.

BUILDING AN ONLINE CAMPAIGN 30 DAYS PRIOR IS ENOUGH

Forget online campaigning if you think 30 days is enough to get you all the attention you need! Building your online image, content, and personality takes time and effort.

Campaigns have to start slow.

  • First, build voter contact lists
  • Forge relationships with advocacy organizations and unions
  • Understand and address voter issues
  • Split up your campaign into multiple stages and use scripts for voter ID, persuasion, and GOTV

As a representative, you need to influence what people see, hear and read about you online. Building an online identity is the first step toward the goal. So create personal social media accounts and a professional website.

How much time do you predict it will take to set up an effective primary election campaign? Way more than a month. You need to get to it from the time you announce your candidacy.

NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN ADS ARE UNINFORMATIVE

During heated campaigns, you will come upon 10 corny attack ads an hour, even if you aren’t watching tv. You hate them and think of it as unnecessary, unethical, and uninformative. Well, you’re wrong.

According to a study conducted, we are better informed about the issues of the elections by watching negative ads; these commercials prompt candidates to check facts and opponents to respond to clear their names. While people still think of it as deplorable, it benefits voters.

The 2008 Presidential campaign is a good example of how negative ads are informative. John McCain claimed Barack Obama’s economic plan was bad for small businesses. This led to a series of debates where Obama hit back and better explained his stand, giving voters a lot more information.

YOU CAN INFLUENCE VOTER OPINION WITH JUST FACTS

If you think by providing voters with just facts will get you their votes, you are deluding yourself. In fact, voters respond better when you tap into their emotions and beliefs.

Start by addressing the issue: How many able candidates offer a strong agenda built on policy issues but still end up failing because they couldn’t connect with voters on a personal level. The failure here is that facts alone aren’t good at resonating with people’s emotions, which is pivotal to securing the trust, and the vote of a person.

The solution: Candidates have to tie in policy issues or items on their agenda to specific pain points in the community. For example, instead of telling voters about your plan for stricter environmental regulation, tell them about how the regulation will get the local lake cleaned or improve drinking water facilities in the neighborhood.

Keep these myths in mind while running for election. Knowing the truth behind these misconceptions will help you come up with a better campaign strategy. Remember, your campaign needs a lot of time to become popular and to gain support. So, start early and work with a plan. If you think we’ve missed out on any point comment below.

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